Photo Credit: Humanix Books

Title: Rules to Live By: Maimonides’ Guide to a Wonderful Life
By: Rabbi Jeffrey Katz
Humanix Books



We all know Rambam has lots of answers. A new book has put much of his practical wisdom for everyday living into one easy reading volume.

Rules to Live By: Maimonides’ Guide to a Wonderful Life, divides Rambam’s advice into seven categories, covering the key areas of life, including character development, family life, connection with G-d, career, and health.

The advice is profound and provides an approach to excelling in each area, while also achieving an overall balance in your life, so you can be fulfilled and happy.


Why Character Counts

In the first section of the book, “Character Counts,” Rabbi Katz explains, in simple one- and two-page chapters, Rambam’s formula for developing an outstanding character. Once developed, your character is what will lead you to personal, spiritual, and professional success.

These include associating with virtuous and wise people, cultivating your trustworthiness (“be willing to lose with truth and right, rather than gain with falsehood and wrong”), and nurturing reliability in yourself (“what is in your heart should be what is on your tongue”). Rambam suggests getting comfortable making decisions, for yourself and others as needed (“the risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision”).

Is it any wonder that someone with these character traits of trustworthiness, reliability, and comfort in decision-making, will have great success in any career they choose?

Given how rare these qualities are, especially in combination, and their importance to any organization, the few who have them will rise head-and-shoulders above their peers. And this will be true across the board and across all levels of technical skill and IQ. So simple, yet at the same time astounding to consider.

Each of the short and accessible hundred-plus chapters in the book is sourced by Rabbi Katz from Rambam’s voluminous corpus of work. The source of each quote, paraphrase or inspiration in each chapter is cited in a lengthy appendix at the end of the book. And the sources extend beyond the usual ones, even to Rambam’s extensive medical writings and letters.


Reason & Its Limits

For Rambam, reason plays a pivotal role in many areas of life, including in one’s relationship with G-d, and extending into one’s relationship with family, including children, in whom we want to instill our values – because if we don’t, others are eager to instill their values into them instead.

But reason also has its limits, according to Rambam. For example, what we can know about G-d Himself through reason is limited. Yet, according to Rambam we can still approach G-d through our minds.

By thinking correct thoughts about G-d, we can build up a mental bridge that is our direct link with G-d. It is a two-way bridge, and it is through this same bridge that G-d looks down on us and watches over us. Through this mental bridge G-d may implant an idea in your mind to help you through a problem or challenge you are facing.

When our minds are attuned correctly towards G-d, the mind becomes like a radio receiver that can pick up and receive the Divine Overflow, that overflowing abundance of wisdom, guidance and ideas emanating constantly from G-d. When we have removed the “static” and our reception is clear, we will then see signposts in our lives leading us towards our best paths forward.

There is a lot in this book that can turn lives around, towards fulfillment and happiness.

Rules to Live By: Maimonides’ Guide to a Wonderful Life is a practical and easy-to-understand roadmap that we should all become familiar with, and try to apply in our own lives. (Available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and wherever books and ebooks are sold.)

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Reuven Kaplan is a writer based in New York City.